The Mercedes AMG C43 Cabriolet offers top-down motoring at an impressive pace thanks to its powerful engine and grippy four-wheel drive, but there are more exciting open-tops
The Mercedes AMG C43 Cabriolet exists to bridge the ever-widening gap between the regular C-Class Cabriolet and the range-topping drop-top C63. The C43 Cabriolet is also a part of a full range of C43 models – there’s a C43 Saloon, a C43 Estate and a C43 Coupe. Visually, C43 models differ from regular C-Class models by their quad exhausts and from C63 models by the lack of wide wheel arches.
The C43 Cabriolet first went on sale in 2016 and the whole C43 range was refreshed in 2018. The update was mild, mind you, and only keen eyes will spot the different grille, new bumpers and redesigned alloy wheels. You’d hardly feel the bump in power up to 390hp, too.
Inside, there are a few changes with the 2018 model too. The Nappa leather steering wheel now has new buttons to control the infotainment system and you can opt to replace the analogue dials with a 12.3-inch screen that’s customisable and comes with a unique AMG specific view which positions a sporty rev-counter in the middle.
As standard, you get a 10.3-inch screen for the infotainment system which has pleasing graphics and quick response times. Sat-nav is also included, however, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is an optional extra. While decent, the Mercedes system isn’t as intuitive to use as the Audi S5 Cabriolets MMI system.
The Mercedes also loses to the Audi when it comes to build quality, too. On the upside, the C43 Cabriolet has a more stylish cabin than the more reserved one in the BMW 4 Series Cabriolet.
The standard leather seats lean more towards support in cornering rather than outright comfort but never become too firm over a long drive. For a hefty sum, you can get AMG performance seats but they are quite firm and make the C43 Cabriolet feel a bit too race-focused for its own good.
It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position in the C43 Cabriolet, even if electrical adjustment is optional. The best comfort feature, however, is standard – it’s a little vent that blows warm air on your neck on cold days. There’s unlimited headroom with the roof down and still decent amounts of it once you close it so you won’t be hunting for space in the front of the C43 Cabriolet.
Things are a bit cramped in the back, but that’s to be expected of any cabriolet short of a presidential one. That said, the C43 Cabriolet is usable as a four-seater with the only difficulty being squeezing in through the gap behind the front seats – a feat even more difficult when the roof is up.
Boot size is what you’d expect from a car of this size and you can fit a few soft bags or a couple of small suitcases – the Audi S5 Cabriolet has marginally more luggage space but the differences are equivalent to an extra soft bag.
The C43 Cabriolet has a healthy dose of AMG performance but the comfort of a true Mercedes is still present and correct
The C43 Cabriolet costs more than any regular Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet mostly because of its high-performance engine. It’s a 3.0-litre petrol V6 with two turbos. Those turbos are responsible for the 390hp output but more so for the huge amount of pulling power that shoots you out of corners with an unrelenting pace. Indeed, the C43 Cabriolet takes just 4.9 seconds to reach 62mph from a dead stop.
That ability to leap out of bends like a startled rabbit is to do with the standard 4Matic four-wheel drive system fitted to the C43 Cabriolet. It actually sends the majority of power to the rear wheels, but overall the C43 Cabriolet doesn’t offer the tail-happy fun you can have in a BMW 440i Convertible. The Mercedes is an altogether more precise machine and you can cover impressive ground in a very short time – no matter the weather conditions.
Arguably, though, the ethos of the C43 Cabriolet is to use that grip and pace occasionally while you comfortably waft along the rest of the time. The C43 Cabriolet does a great job at this thanks to the standard adaptive dampers that are controlled by the drive mode selector in the centre console. Along with throttle response, gear change severity and suspension stiffness, the drive selector also controls flaps in the exhaust that modulate the noise from a muted growl to an almost obscene rasp. At its most extreme, the C43 Cabriolet pops and bangs like a racecar.
If you’re looking for a four-seat convertible with a decent turn of speed there aren’t that many choices. There’s the Ford Mustang GT Convertible which has more power than the Mercedes and is cheaper but its interior quality leaves some to be desired. There’s also the BMW 440i Convertible that’s more fun on a twisty road than the C43 Cabriolet, but it has less power. Which leaves us with the Audi S5 Cabriolet, which comes close to the Mercedes on power, but it’s not on the same level in terms of agility or comfort.
All this makes the Mercedes C43 Cabriolet not only the most powerful in class but also a great choice for anyone looking for a multi-talented drop-top.